In my work with couples, I have found that daily acknowledgement of each other is a critical part of the glue that holds relationships together. This acknowledgement can be purely verbal, but is far more effective when combined with physical affection. Here are some examples of the kind of acknowledgement I am referring to.
“I love the way you hug me.”
“Thanks so much for doing the dishes again tonight. You are so sensitive to my needs.” (She puts her arms around him from behind at the kitchen sink)
“It feels so good to know I have someone in my life that really cares.” (Delivered with a warm hug)
“I hear that you are really angry about that. Thanks so much for sharing your feelings so clearly.” (Delivered with a warm smile)
Most couples I see in my coaching practice are very busy doing the opposite of acknowledgement, finding every opportunity to criticize each other, perhaps in the hope that sufficient criticism and shaming can force the other person to change into the prince charming of their fantasies. Do these statements sound similar to ones you have used? And have they really been effective in changing your partner’s ways…or your own?
“You’ve got to stop leaving your clothes everywhere. Were you raised in a barn?”
“I can’t believe you worked late again…and on our anniversary. You obviously don’t care about me at all.”
“You’re spending too money much again. Who do you think I am anyway?”